Problems in Court Administration Restrict Development of the Judiciary
The unresolved legal limbo in the administration of courts is seriously threatening the development of the Estonian court administration system. The existing model of court administration does not have sufficient potential for increasing the efficiency of the overall system. The role of court administration tends to be regarded very narrowly as being limited to the supervision of the professional activities of judges and the financing of courts. This interpretation of the role of court administration is clearly inadequate and devalues its real role.
Instead, court administration should be defined as the activities of institutions that are responsible for administering courts, making sure that the judicial process has integrity, is cost efficient, and takes place within a reasonable amount of time. These institutions are also responsible for providing for the staffing and material resources that courts need for their work.
There are, thus, two aspects – operational and responsibility matters – to be observed in the administration of courts. From one side, the institution that is called upon to administer courts must constantly keep the public and other relevant institutions informed about the activities of courts. On the other hand, it must provide courts with necessary resources and ensure adequate supervision over their activities.
In order to be efficient, court administration must ensure the independence of its object of supervision. In this respect, it differs from public administration, which is organised by the principle of subordination. The nature of court administration is determined by the position of courts in the system of separation of powers, in which they have a balancing role and ensure the rule of law. This is why the administration of courts should be regarded as a provider of service and not so much in an enforcing and supervisory capacity.
To overcome the problems surrounding Estonia’s court administration one needs a systematic approach. The problem could be solved by restructuring the current court administration system and by creating an autonomous court administration outside the area of government of the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court. Separation from government institutions would enable the increase of efficiency of court administration and ensure its immunity from political influence. By setting up an administrative body that is non-political and separated from the executive branch, will enable this body to focus on fulfilling its main function and creates the precondition for removing superficiality from court administration.